They look innocent enough, don’t they?
Ok, allow me to be up-front here. This is not one for the vego’s and non-pork eaters. It’s also not for one that monitors every gram of fat that enters their body. Hell, even someone like myself that has no great aversion to animal fats can’t eat too many of them.
So what’s this thing called čvarke?
Well, it’s pork fat. It’s the left-over bits from when you render down chunks of pork fat. It’s soft and crunchy at the same time and tastes strongly of pork. Funny, that. It’s an acquired taste and it’s been on the Croatian food agenda for countless decades. Mind you, something tells me it’s mostly the older generations that still make and eat it; plus some hardcore new-gen devotees.
Nose-to-tail eating may be modern buzzwords, but there’s nothing new about the concept. Very little was wasted when my father got his hands on freshly-killed swine in the days of my youth, that was for sure, and any offcuts of fat were dutifully dealt with. The rendered fat was used for cooking or simply spread on bread with a light sprinkle of salt and paprika powder; and those crunchy remnants – čvarke – were seasoned and boxed up in the fridge for easy snackage.
I’ve known about čvarke all my life. I ate my share when I was prepubescent and came across them more recently when I decided to make these little numbers. Think of them as crackling with less crackle. Chop them even finer and toss them through a salad for glorious porcine croutons. Or whizz them up and transform them into something completely different, as I did for an upcoming recipe.
I may not fully condone making čvarke a staple of the diet, but I do feel it’s my duty to keep it alive. Traditionalist will simply season it with salt, perhaps some pepper, but I felt it was fitting to bring a little smoked paprika to the mix to echo the way my dad used to spread rendered fat on his bread.
This recipe is the same as one I’ve done previously – How to render pork fat. For a little more information go check it out.